LIAM COOPER may have spent Friday night sodden on the Hampden bench as Scotland toiled to a draw against Israel, but you won’t hear the Leeds United man complaining. Had life worked out differently, he might well have been on a pallet boat in the River Humber instead.

For Cooper’s father and brother, that is the daily reality of their own working lives, giving the Elland Road skipper a heightened gratitude for his own life as an international – and now English Premier League – footballer.

Seeing the other side of the coin has been a driving factor behind Cooper’s rise to the top level, both for club and country, keeping him motivated when he was being ignored by successive Scotland managers throughout his career, or when he was playing in the lower leagues.

“It can be difficult and disheartening at times [when you aren’t making squads],” Cooper said.

“But I come from a family who have never had anything given to us. We never give up.

“Sometimes people's opinions are different. But I stuck to my guns, worked hard, got myself in the best shape possible and played well for my club.

“You can only focus on your club and then you from there get recognised. I've managed to do that and hopefully I can stay in the Scotland set up now.

“That attitude comes from my family as a whole. We're a working-class family who have good morals.

“I've had it instilled in me from an early age to never give up, to give your all by working as hard as you can. My father put that in me since I can remember.

“He was always tough on me as a kid. If I had a good game, he'd pick something up. He always wanted the best for me, which I understand now because I have kids of my own.

“I had plenty of arguments with him in the car on the way back from games when I was younger. That's just how it was. He was super-critical.

“At the time, it wasn't the best because no-one likes to get told they've played poorly. But I thank him for it now.

“We grew up in Hull," he added. "My dad Dave works on the pallet boats on the River Humber. He takes pallets out to the big ships. My brother Joe does the same, so they have plenty of cold nights on the river.

“I'm thankful that my career went in another direction. I was one of the lucky ones.

“I've got a lot of friends who were unfortunate in the game. They had to go and get jobs, get on the building sites. I was lucky, I threw all my eggs in one basket but it has paid dividends for me.

“I've had to work hard for it. I was never the most naturally gifted player. But one thing I've always had is a big heart, I never give up. Now, I'm here today and I have so many people to thank.

“I'm just so glad that I stuck at it.”